Hot Buttons: Go ahead and press them!!

UPDATE: This contest is now closed. Thank you to Nicole O’Dell and to everyone who participated. The winners are Jean Brittingham and Jasmine Blaylock. Ladies, please contact me to claim your goodies!

I have something a little different for you today. Instead of our traditional family-favorite recipe post for the first Monday of the month, I’d like to share a different type of recipe with you, the kind that helps equip and guide teenagers through life’s difficult choices. Nicole O’Dell is my guest on my blog today, and she would like to tell you all about this recipe and how it relates to her new book series.

I am also doing a giveaway of two copies of Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women, one each to two different winners and each autographed by my coauthor, Miriam Flaud, and myself. Each of the two winners will also receive their choice of either Hot Buttons: Internet Edition or Hot Buttons: Dating Edition, autographed by Nicole O’Dell.

~Cindy Woodsmall


Hot Buttons: Go ahead and press them!! by Nicole O’Dell

Right up front I’ll admit that many people disagree with my approach. There are a lot of parents who believe it’s better to shield their kids from issues and temptations. I understand that thought process–I really do. I get that it’s from a good place. It’s rooted in the desire to protect their kids and help them live a righteous life smack in the center of God’s richest blessings. I get that. In fact, I want that for my kids, too.

It’s my strong belief, though, that the only way we can combat the pressures of life that are thrown at our kids earlier and earlier is to confront them head on. We need to yank the shroud of secrecy and the glamour of the unknown right off the issues.

Frank honesty. Full disclosure.

Those things rob the enemy of his greatest weapon–his stealth. With the spotlight shining on his intent, his power shrivels. When it comes to teens and pre-teens who are encountering his lies and temptations at such early ages, I want to throw open the blinds and let the SON in. Though the issues exist, and the temptations happen, we can crowd out their power with knowledge and preparation.

What are Hot Buttons?

Well, in the broader sense, the phrase Hot Buttons means a lot of different things, anything really, that can get a rise out people. Something that charges them up and receives an intense reaction. For the purposes of Choose NOW Ministries, I’ve defined hot buttons as those tough issues that teenagers face–the things parents are often more afraid of and most hesitant to talk about.

Some examples include:

  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Sex
  • Friendships
  • Racism
  • Internet Activity
  • Faith Matters
  • Divorce
  • Dating
  • Bullying
  • Occult
  • and more

Why press the Hot Buttons?

Why not just leave it alone and let the kids figure it out? We can pray for them and trust it all to work out in the end. In some ways it does work itself out, true. Circumstances happen, pressure hits, relationships change. . .and your teens gets to figure it all out. In the heat of the moment. On their own. Hopefully they’ll make the right choice, but it’s really hard to know what will happen when the prep work isn’t done. Hot Buttons, Dating, Nicole O'Dell

Take an issue like dating–we talk about the boundaries. We set rules for curfew and other things. We even make sure we approve of the date and talk about saying no to sexual advances. Right?

And that’s great. It really is. But there’s something missing. Our teens need to know what to do and what not to do, and what we expect of them, but they also need to understand why that’s going to be difficult for them. How does the body respond in ways that make it tough to say no? What will the feelings be like that make it difficult to leave the room or douse the proverbial flames?

You see, if we don’t hit those truths head on before they become an issue, our teens will think they’re living something special, that those feelings of desire are specific to them, and we really don’t know what we’re asking them to say no to. But, if we press those hot buttons in advance, if we have the difficult conversations, then our teens will enter those pressure-filled situations armed with understanding and equipped with the words to say to stay true to their commitments.

With every hot button issue, someone is feeding your tweens and teens information–do you really want that someone to be anyone other than you?

How do I press the Hot Buttons?

Now that you’ve made the decision to be proactive about helping your tweens and teens battle peer pressure, I would love to share the principles behind the Hot Buttons book series and the method of communicating with your teens it prescribes. Hot Buttons, Internet, Nicole O"Dell

Each book is topical based on a single Hot Button issue and its surrounding sub-topics. For example, the Hot Buttons Internet Edition deals with social networking, pornography, predators, cyber bullying, and more. The goal isn’t to convince parents to keep their kids off the net, but rather to arm them with the tools they need to navigate it in a safe and healthy way.

Same with the Dating Edition. It covers early relationships, physical boundaries, date rape, and more. Instead of just handing down rules, parents need to walk their teens through the details and equip them with the understanding of what’s out there and how to rise above the peer pressure.

How do Hot Buttons work?

Each book is designed the same way. The first few chapters discuss the how’s and why’s of tackling hot buttons early and effectively. Part two dives into the topics with statistics and information that every parent should know. Next are the application portions of the book. This is when you put into practice the principles we discuss early on. Strategic Scenarios (up to 15 per book) allow you to walk your teens through a fictional situation and then offer options and choices as to how they think they’d respond.


Here’s an example of the way a Strategic Scenario works:

  Parents, tell your teen this story.

You’re hanging out at your boyfriend’s house and his parents aren’t home—which is against the rules. You’re looking through the books on the bookshelf and he comes up behind you, puts his hands on your shoulders and gently turns you around. You know what’s coming—he’s going to kiss you. You like him a lot, but you’re not ready for a first kiss with him or anyone. What do you do?

Now offer the following options with no personal commentary. Let your teen think about the choices and make an honest decision.

A. You reach up and take his hands from your shoulders and tell him you’re not ready for that.
B. You don’t want to be completely honest, so you turn your face and let him kiss your cheek. Then you tell him you have a cold.
C. You’re horrified that he doesn’t know you well enough or doesn’t care about you enough to know you’re not ready. You ask him to take you home. He’s not the kind of boy you want to date.
D. You go ahead and kiss him. Everyone needs a first kiss; might as well get it over with.

Crucial Step

Use this scenario to guide a discussion about dating and physical activity. Be very careful not to sound judgmental or accusatory. Remember, your teen is exploring thoughts and first impressions—these aren’t actual choices . . . yet. Mom and Dad, be sure you have a plan in place, should your teens find themselves unexpectedly in a compromising situation. Whom can they call? What should they do if you’re unavailable?

Discussion Points

  • Why did you make the choice you did?
  • Your convictions are worth more than giving in just to make a boy happy.
  • A few seconds can change a lot. You can’t get back your first kiss.
  • Chapter 6 has a lot of information about kissing and physical activity.
  • Do you have a different view on this scenario than you did at the start? Why or why not?
  • Would you like to change your answer or stick with it?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9, NIV)

The final chapters of each Hot Buttons book will lead you and your family through confession and forgiveness and then help you walk into the future with a clean slate, armed with the tools you all need to face those hot buttons.

If you’re a parent of teens, or you know one, I hope you’ll visit to read more Hot Buttons posts each week. Also, the first two Hot Buttons books: Dating and Internet, released on 6/1. Following soon after on 10/1 are the Sexuality and Drug editions.

Thank you, Cindy, for opening your blog so I could share on these topics that are important to the parents of pre-teens and teens.

Nicole O'Dell, Choose HER, Choose NOW ministries

Nicole O’Dell, founder of Choose NOW Ministries and host of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk, is a youth culture expert who writes and speaks to preteens, teenagers, and parents on preparing for life’s tough choices. The mother of six, including toddler triplets, she’s an author of YA fiction, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the Diamond Estates Series, and non-fiction for teens including Girl Talk, 2/1/12, based on the popular advice column she writes with her two daughters. Hot Buttons, O’Dell’s non-fiction series for parents, pre-empts peer pressure by tackling tough issues. Visit


If you would like to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Plain Wisdom: an Introduction into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women and one of two autographed copies of either Hot Buttons: Dating Edition or Hot Buttons: Internet Edition, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post on my website.

Two winners will be randomly selected, and each winner will receive the following:

  • A copy of Plain Wisdom, autographed by both Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud
  • Either Hot Buttons: Dating Edition OR Hot Buttons: Internet Edition, autographed by Nicole O’Dell. Recipient’s choice.

If you are reading this anywhere other than my website, such as on Facebook, in an email, or on Goodreads, please hop on over to my website and leave a comment at the bottom of my post to enter the giveaway. Only comments left on my website will be entered into the giveaway. (It’s just too hard to track down all the comments left in various places, and that means it’s too easy to miss some of the comments.)

The deadline for this contest is Friday, June 8, 2012, at noon. The winner will be chosen using and will be contacted privately, as well as announced on next Monday’s post.

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